COMMAND VR GAME EXPLORATIONS
Let me start off by saying VR is amazing. It is my tech passion. I am so damn fortunate to get to see this go mainstream in my lifetime. When Google Cardboard came out an engineer friend and I were pretty excited. We had just finished our first polished game in Unity and both on app 3 or 4. We thought this would be a great challenge. Unfortunately, Adrian is super talented and he started a job at Nvidia and he got swept away in that role. I figured I would throw this up on my site so one can see how more or less we just went for it and learned a ton of valuable information.
I have since purchased PS4 VR and I love it! I have done countless informal user studies just watching friends react and immerse themselves at varying levels, a lot to my surprise. Through this xploration, I will note things I have learned and snags along the way.
We initially were thinking of a game where the player is the head of some kind of star fleet. As we progressed and looked for inspiration we started really liking the idea of an Ender's Game type of trajectory. It seemed to fit the restrictions that started coming to fruition through the research I was doing.
After spending a bunch of time going through some cutting edge Google Cardboard apps and some not so cutting edge apps I saw some patterns quickly.
1. Cranking your head around as a user is less than ideal. You need a few seconds to settle ESPECIALLY if you need to read or focus. If you are attached to a machine gun well spray and pray but when it come to detail you need a settling time. As far as how long, I think that is dependent on amount of detail surrounding the text or item of focus.
2. Your line of sight as a pointer has a ton of limitations. The biggest I thought was that your nuanced control is actually coming from your neck muscles for Google Cardboard. Shaky isn't the word but your neck does not have the dexterity that 34 muscles in your hand have. On top of that you are moving your arm in a non-optimal rotation concert with your head movement.
3. Trying to do anything with this arm connected to head mode of control is clunky at best. Our take away was to pull back on the speed in which the game action unfolds.
4. Acceleration is rough. It throws everyone off differently. If dealing with acceleration at all it should be smooth as possible. If you have not used VR it is hard to understand but imagine that time you were a passenger in a vehicle and you grab something off the floor as the driver makes a turn or variation in their driving that your brain was not accounting for. It is that slight feeling of nausea. If you are not careful you can induce this repeatedly in VR for your user.
This is where we decided our first adventure into this world should be the user on a fixed platform and the game would be turn based not constant action.
There is nothing revolutionary in this diagram. It was just my initial sorting of layers based on the position as a user.
Adrian and I had decided movement would be happening on a hexagonal grid and we planned zones of action within the game to reduce the head cranking and keeping the standard line of sight the norm for in game action.
At this point I also was pretty convinced that a persistent static interface locked in eyeshot would feel pretty grounding for the user.
Towards the user's lap, they could get to game settings.
One of the first thing myself and Adrian were talking about is the configuration for different actions. When we started this Unity had just ome out with a way to support Google Cardboard. Being that any other VR headsets were very pricey and the dev kits were so slow to come by we said, "Ok, we will work in the confines of their configuration." At that time they had a Trigger(metal washer on the left side of the headset) and a fuse. A fuse trigger is a hover and instead of a click denoting user intention it is time holding on a location. I thought a lot about intention and the importance of intention when it comes to an attack on a turn. So, we I decided on a very intentioned combo pattern that differed from a basic "move to" action.